Thursday, January 02, 2014

Why is everyone getting so worked up about a gay kiss on Eastenders?

I am not a fan of Eastenders but I understand that on December 30th Danny Pennant and Johnny Carter kissed and as a result there have been a number of complaintes to the BBC and lots of abusive comment on social media.

The episode was screened after the 9.00pm watershed, but this was not due to the content, but a scheduling issue with the film Shrek thankfully, because there really should be no justification for making any LGBT issue a reason for broadcasting after the watershed.

What I am finding difficult to understand is why people should think that this has ruined the programme. Eastenders has been at the foreront of addressing LGBT issues with the first ever gay kis in a british soap in 1987. The Colin and Barry storyline lasted from 1986 to 1989 at a time when there was a huge HIV/AIDS issue and that was addressed comprehensively in the storyline. The AIDS issues was then picked up with Mark Fowler who eventually died from AIDS related illnesses in 2003, although Mark was not gay.
But Eastenders has not just broadcast gay kisses, in 2011 they courted contoversy by broadcasting the first gay bed scene in a soap and of course addressed the issue of muslim men being gay.

Soaps do regularly tackle LGBT issues and in an increaslgly suportive way. There is still in my view room for improvement and as I wrote last week, it is important to address the negative public attitudes, not just avoid them.

It is a shame that homophobic attitudes still persist, but that is a fact of life and until schools and the education system generally address LGBT issues properly in the curriculum we are going to continut to have to read offensive homophobic comment based on ignorance.  Watching a gay scene on a soap is not going to make someone gay. What it might do is encourage someone who is gay to face up to who they are and come out.

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